Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

Politics and the Olympics

By Brooks Taylor

By BROOKS TAYLOR

Mt. Pleasant News

Had enough?

Surely, you don’t need a reminder, but 80 days remain until election day. That should be enough to throw you into a deep depression.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy politics. I ran for office three times (and won all three races) for public office in another life. However, even the most ardent fans of politics can reach a breaking point.

It’s Iowa — that can be good or bad.

I doubt another state with similar population has the 24/7 politics Iowa has. Seemingly, there has not been a break since 2008 and the barrage heightens each year.

Iowa has the caucuses. That means Iowa has the candidates for six solid months prior to the caucuses. Talk about economic development, politics has to rank high on the list. That may be a bit of a stretch, but all those dollars candidates and their campaigns spend in Iowa is an economic boon.

It didn’t use to be this way and I am not sure today’s campaigning is an improvement. Fortunately, I do not watch much television. But even in the small amount of time I do watch (news and sporting events), I am besieged by political ads.

I think I have seen the same ads two dozen times. Do they leave an impression? Yes, turn off the television.

What bothers me most about the ads is that they are all formed in the same mold — tear down the opponent. Occasionally I would love to see an ad extolling the virtues of Candidate X instead of criticizing Candidate Y.

Secondly, the Federal Elections Commission should put a cap on spending by each political candidate, their political action committees (PACs) and the parties they represent. It never will happen but why should political offices be for sale?

Finally, let’s get back to starting the general election campaigns the day after Labor Day. Give our sore ears and eyes a break.

Now that the Olympics are over, I will be watching even less television. Term me an Olympic “junkie.” I just love both the summer and winter versions. Even though I haven’t ever participated in two-thirds of the sports on the menu, watching great athletes give maximum effort is sports in its purest and best form. Heck, I even found myself watching synchronized diving one night (synchronized swimming another night proved to put me over the limit).

The Olympics just happened to coincide with a few days of vacation, allowing me to view some of the daytime programming. Wow, there was a big difference. Naturally, the nighttime events were much more appealing. Because London is six hours ahead of us, it detracted somewhat when I knew the outcome of an event before I saw it. But even with the drama missing, the event was worth watching.

Olympic men’s basketball also gave me my lone opportunity to root for LeBron James. The United States had a much more difficult time than expected with Spain in the gold medal game. While the United States had more talent, Spain had the better teamwork. Talent won this time, but teamwork was a great equalizer.

One of the most beautiful things about the Olympics is the feeling of nationalism that comes with it. Seeing your nation’s athlete(s) on the top step of the podium as the national anthem is playing sends chills down your back.

While politics provides an economic boost for Iowa, the Olympics also provided a significant bump for one particular gymnastics studio in West Des Moines. Lin Chow could not have asked for better advertising. Having tutored two consecutive Olympic gold medalists and the 2012 Olympic all-around gold medalist will make him one of the most sought-after instructors in the nation…and maybe world, for that matter.